Mom’s Brown and Serve Wheat Germ Rolls

by Caroline

Every Thanksgiving, I think, “Maybe I’ll make a different kind of roll this year. Maybe sweet potato. Or even Parker House. I don’t need so many dozens of rolls.” And every year, I dig up the recipe for my mom’s wheat germ rolls and every year, I am glad that I do. We have no trouble polishing off the whole batch before Thanksgiving weekend ends, one of the boys always helps me stir and knead and shape, and this year, Eli gratified us all by inhaling deeply over the bread basket as we gathered for our feast and sighing, “Oh, these rolls just smell like Thanksgiving.”

I can't imagine where he learned to treat dough like that

dough is fun

this is my favorite kind of time in the kitchen

you'd think with 5-dozen rolls, I might get a picture before they're nearly gone

Birthday Bread Pudding

by Caroline

future bread pudding

It should come as no surprise, given all the baking I do around here, that my kids can order up whatever they like for a birthday dessert. But it was definitely a surprise, after a solid six years of chocolate birthday cakes, to hear Eli request bread pudding. And not just any bread pudding, but Chef Ric’s Bread Pudding.

So I went to school and asked Ric if he would share the recipe he makes for the school, only to learn that — talented chef that he is — he wings it. And of course, he’s making dessert for three hundred people, so even if he could give me the exact recipe he makes at school, it would have taken a bit of math to scale it down for our family. But luckily he has chef friends who do write down their recipes, and he passed on this recipe for a New Orleans bread pudding. It calls for more butter than any bread pudding recipe I have ever seen. I think it’s going to be great.

Bread Pudding

12 oz bread, cubed

½ pound butter

4 whole eggs

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

Vanilla (to taste)

Ground Cinnamon (to taste)

2 cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 325. While it’s warming, put the cubed bread on a baking sheet and let toast it in the oven till just golden, about five minutes.

Lightly grease a 13X9 baking pan and put the toasted bread into the pan.

Heat milk and cream with butter and vanilla. Whisk eggs till pale in color and add sugar and whisk some more. Temper egg mixture with the cream mixture off heat. Pour the liquid over the bread and allow it time to soak for a few minutes.

Bake until set – approximately 30-40 minutes. Serve, if you like, with caramel sauce and seven birthday candles.

edited to add: I actually ran out of butter and sugar while making this (my pantry is usually better stocked than that!), so can report that this tastes just fine if you only use 1/4 pound of butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar

Pide = Soft Bread Happiness

by Caroline

I’m continuing to use bread recipes as my gateway into Turkish cooking, because I love to knead bread and my family loves to eat it. This delicious loaf is called pide, a flatbread which is sold with toppings like minced lamb, egg, vegetables and or cheese, although for our first encounter with it, we kept it plain. It’s a much easier dough to work with than last week’s simit, and produces such a soft, chewy loaf, we are just looking for soupy stewy things to dunk it into.

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4-6 oz lukewarm water
1 lb flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter
beaten egg for egg glaze
1 tablespoon nigella seeds (I’m calling these optional because I didn’t have them)

Sprinkle the yeast and sugar into the water and stir; set aside to let it bubble and foam.

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, oil and yogurt, stir well, and then dump out onto a lightly floured surface to knead until the dough becomes fairly smooth and elastic. This can take five or ten minutes, mostly depending on your interest in making it your upper body workout.

Let the dough sit while you wash out the dough bowl, then drizzle a bit of oil or wipe a pat of butter in the bowl. Put the dough into the bowl and give it a couple turns so it’s nicely coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise till doubled, about 90 minutes.

Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 450.
Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Knead each piece well, then flatten each into a disc.

Let the dough rest a moment while you prepare a large baking sheet with parchment or a bit of olive oil and put it in the oven to preheat. Now finish shaping the dough, stretching each disc out into a large round. Indent the dough with your finger tips.

Place the discs on the hot baking sheet, brush with a bit of beaten egg and sprinkle with nigella seeds (if you have them) or salt. Some sesame seeds or rosemary would be nice, too, depending on what you’re making to accompany the pide.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden and the crust is crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, though wrap the discs in a dry towel while warm to maintain their soft texture. If your family doesn’t devour the pide instantly, you can resuscitate it the next day, by sprinkling it with a bit of water and putting it in a hot oven for a few minutes.

English Muffin Loaf

by Caroline

What’s not to love about a community cookbook, a crowd-sourced collection of family recipes from a school, church, or the local Junior League? I have a small collection of them, some from our preschool and churches my Dad has served, and some I’ve picked up at tag sales because the cover or layout appealed. This recipe comes from a cookbook I don’t actually own (yet!), the Cate School Community Cookbook, and I’ve eaten the bread often visiting our cousins who live and teach at Cate School. It’s one of those rare and wonderful finds: a quick, no-knead yeast bread. You can stir it together, pre-coffee, in your morning haze, and enjoy a piece with your second cup of coffee.

English Muffin Loaf
adapted from The Cate School Community Cookbook, 2002

5-6 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups milk
1 cup water

cornmeal for dusting the pan

Butter two 8×4 loaf pans and dust with cornmeal.

Preheat the oven to 400.

Combine 3 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, salt and soda in a large bowl.

Heat the milk and water until warm and then add to the dry mixture. Mix well. Stir in remaining 2-3 cups flour, to make a stiff batter. Spoon the batter into the loaf pans, sprinkle the tops with more cornmeal, and cover with a damp cloth. Let the bread rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove promptly from the pans and let cool on a rack.

These loaves freeze well, and make delicious toast.